We are thrilled to announce that we are now accepting tenders from heritage and architectural professionals for an exciting new project.
The Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park are in the process of creating a Conservation Management Plan to help us better understand and conserve our history, the biodiversity of our site and the things our community love best about Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park. The Conservation Management Plan has kindly been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and will involve input from our community, our stakeholders and from heritage and biodiversity professionals.
A Conservation Management Plan is a document that will help us:
- Describe our heritage
- Understand why the Cemetery Park matters and to whom
- Understand what is happening to our heritage and what needs preserving
- Understand what the key issues are that will affect the Cemetery Park
- Plan conservation and restoration works for the future
- Improve public access
- Plan activities that engage the whole community
The Conservation Management Plan will help Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park plan for our future. Understanding what needs to be done, why it needs to be done and who will do the work is vital. This knowledge will help us to then create a maintenance plan to care for the Cemetery Park to guide us on what needs doing on a day to day basis. From who cuts the grass and plants the spring daffodils, to when the health and safety checks need completing and how we conduct cleaning and repairs on our vast array of headstones and monuments.
To find out more about the Conservation Management Plan, or to express an interest in tendering to work with us, please contact our Heritage Officer, Claire, on firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find copies of our invitation to tender and our project brief below.
This year we were unable to have our usual ceremony for Remembrance Sunday due to the second Coronavirus lockdown. We realise this was disappointing to those of you who usually attend but the safety of our community was our highest priority at this difficult time.
Whilst we were not able to welcome the normal crowds, it did not mean that we were unable to remember those who gave their lives to secure and protect our freedom. Many local people visited our memorials and paid their respects and laid a poppy or a wreath in solitary acts of remembrance. The staff from Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park also laid wreaths at our war memorials as well as in the area of the Cemetery Park where many soldiers killed in action were buried.
We were thrilled that the Venerable Roger Preece was able to record a video for us this year in place of our usual, in person ceremony. The Venerable Roger Preece is a Master of the Royal Foundation of St Katharine, a retreat house and community cafe charity in East London. You can watch his video below or on our YouTube channel here.
We would welcome anyone who wished to lay a wreath or a poppy on our memorials on Armistice Day this coming Wednesday. We hope that we are able to resume our usual ceremony in 2021.
Hello from the heritage team here at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park! It’s been a while since we’ve posted an update and lots has happened since our Remembrance Day blog in 2019.
It’s been a challenging year for the team. The pandemic has meant a lot of unknowns for the Cemetery Park but we’ve survived! We have lots of exciting things in store over the coming months as Cemetery Park Online and heritage volunteering resume and work on our new heritage book (details tba but please get in touch if you’d like to get involved) continues.
Cemetery Park Online has been a great success. We began the talks way back in March and included everything from gravestone symbolism and London bats to growing in small spaces and policing in the park. You can find some of our talks on Youtube here. The next heritage related Cemetery Park Online will be with MA Folklore graduate Jaymie Tapsell on East End Customs and Traditions. You can book your free ticket to their talk here.
In September we welcomed our new Heritage Officer, Claire, to the team. Claire will be spending the coming year or two developing a
conservation management plan for the site (thanks to some funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund) and planning new activities to get our community more involved in the heritage of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park. We hope this plan will help us to better understand our history and give us some ideas for what our future will look like as well as making the Cemetery Park more engaging and more accessible. There will be lots of opportunities to get involved over the coming months but please feel free to email Claire on email@example.com for more information or to lend a hand!
Finally, our Remembrance Day ceremony this year will be virtual due to Covid restrictions. More information will be announced as soon as it is available. Keep an eye on our social media pages over the coming weeks!
Remember Together 2019
One of the ambitions of the Heritage team volunteers in their research project into the names recorded on the War Memorial in the Cemetery was to create a whole picture of each individual serviceman, so that they are more than just a sad inscription on a memorial. All of these men had lives before they enlisted – even if some of these lives were very short – they all had families and many left children behind when they died.
All of the Heritage volunteers are really hoping that, as part of this research process we will actually find photographs of the servicemen. Many thousands of service men would have had an ‘official’ photograph taken by a professional photographer either before leaving the UK or once they were in Belgium or France. Proudly wearing their uniform, they would sometimes have the photograph taken with a family member, their wife or girl-friend, a brother also in uniform or a child they were leaving behind.
Newspapers regularly reported on their local men who had enlisted, including a photograph where possible, as a way of encouraging more men to sign up. Sadly, many reports from families announcing the death of a son, father or brother might also include a photograph. These final images would become a treasured possession.
So far we have only been able to locate the photograph of one of our service men.
Stoker 1st Class Peter Mason was born on 13th August 1891. He was one of the 9 children (only five of whom were alive by the 1911 census) of Thomas and Sarah Mason who lived in Stepney and Mile End. Peter was working as a store repairer in the gasworks in the 1911 census and his widowed mother is supporting the household by working as trouser finisher, despite being 62 years of age. Peter’s father also worked in the gas works (in the 1901 census) as a labourer and it is probable that he helped his son obtain his job.
Peter enlisted on the 8th June 1915 in the Royal Navy, Chatham. He served on board six different ships, including the shore base at HMS Pembroke. His last ship was HMS Victorious, one of nine Majestic-class pre-dreadnought battleships, which ended her war service as a repair ship for the Grand Fleet. Peter died of pneumonia on 12th November 1918 at the age of 27 years. He left a widow, Emmie, living at 16 Bale Street (a couple of doors down from Number 28 where he had been living with his mother in 1911). The couple had one daughter, Rose Nell, who was born on 6th November 1918. Peter never met his baby daughter. He is buried in Grave Nu 1517 at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park.
It would be wonderful if we could find other pictures of the War Memorial men so please do get in touch if you have any memorabilia you would like to share with the Heritage research volunteers. Our email is firstname.lastname@example.org
The photograph of Peter and his Jack Russell dog is available on www.bbc.co.uk/remembrance/wall/. It was uploaded by Peter’s great grand-daughter.
Our ‘Hidden Histories’ project is all coming along really nicely ! Several new and very enthusiastic volunteers have joined the research team and have been given some basic training to get them started on the all-consuming hobby of ‘soldier researching’. They probably don’t quite realise what they have let themselves in for !
Starting with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission web-site, the volunteers have then been busy accessing the individual servicemen’s service records, pension records, census details, birth/baptism/marriage certificates and other valuable sources available on Ancestry, findmypast etc.
As part of the project, we are also in the process of ordering the death certificates of all 206 servicemen from www.gro.gov.uk. While the basic details of the serviceman’s death can be found on CWGC, the death certificates gives valuable additional information:
- cause of death – which can include details of injuries and their final illness
- the location where the serviceman died – these can include various hospitals and other buildings requisitioned for war use (schools and stately homes)
- the person registering the death was usually a medical personnel but sometimes a family member was present with the serviceman
Many of our casualties did not actually die as a direct result of injuries sustained on the battlefield. Illness, especially tuberculosis and influenza, struck the servicemen, already weakened by the deprivations of the Western Front, very hard.
Our servicemen are buried at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park because they died ‘at home’ – either locally or elsewhere in the UK and were returned to Mile End for burial. Servicemen who died abroad were all buried in the War Grave Commission cemeteries especially designed for the purpose. Some of our THCP men were shipped home from the Western Front to hospitals in the UK where they sadly later died of their wounds. Some died in accident or in one case in an attack by the IRA after the end of the war.
The volunteers will be researching the hospitals linked to the THCP servicemen – such as the Royal Naval Hospital, an existing pre-war military hospital at Haslar (Gosport) or Nethercroft Hospital, Ramsgate. It would be interesting to find out if any of our local women worked as nurses in these hospitals.
The Hidden Histories project is still looking for extra volunteers – no previous experience needed – to help with our research. All the information will be available on our website and will be published in a booklet later in the year.
Please get in touch if you would like to help research one of the names on the War Memorial. Email us on email@example.com We would also really like to hear from anyone who is related to one of the men and maybe has memorabilia to share with our research team.
Please check out the individual servicemen’s pages on the web-site where individual stories of the servicemen will be regularly added and updated.